The British Hospitality Association (BHA) is holding talks with the Government to thrash out how stiff new targets for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions set to come into force next year are going to affect the industry.
Under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the European Union is required to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 8% by 2012. As part of this, next January will see the launch of an EU Emissions Trading Scheme, followed in 2010 by a UK Carbon Reduction Commitment scheme that will make emissions trading mandatory among large organisations, including hotel chains.
The BHA is keen to pin down with the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs exactly what this will mean for the industry and how it will be introduced.
BHA chief executive Bob Cotton told Caterer that key concerns included how the industry was going to be benchmarked against others. A business such as Whitbread, with more than 1,000 business units, was very different from a similar sized single-unit business, even though it might have the same overall turnover, he said.
With 2008 being set as the base point for reductions, there is also an issue around whether groups that have unilaterally made progress prior to next year will end up being penalised because they will have to compete with firms that have done nothing as yet. The BHA has set up a new industry-wide sustainability committee, including Compass, Sodexho, Mitchells & Butlers, Welcome Break, Hilton, Jarvis, InterContinental, Travelodge, Premier Travel Inn and Best Western among its members.
Emissions trading works by a cap being put on the amount of pollutant a particular industry or sector can emit. Companies are allowed to hold credits or allowances giving them a right to emit to that amount, with those that want to increase emissions above this level being allowed to buy or "trade" credits from those who pollute less.
Guests want hotels to take a green lead
Customers want hotels and restaurants to be more environmentally responsible, but many are not prepared to be less wasteful themselves, according to exclusive Caterer research.
In an online poll of nearly 150 hospitality operators carried out for Green Month, more than 70% agreed customers were showing more interest in their commitment to environmental sustainability. However, 16% said 80% of their guests left lights on, taps running or used towels unnecessarily, with further 15% believing between a half and 60% were equally wasteful.
Despite this disconnect, operators are embracing green issues, with just 12% believing becoming environmentally responsible is "not a priority". Nearly nine in 10 said they were recycling, with the most popular items being paper, glass and plastic bottles and 20% even recycling their uniforms.
Visit www.caterersearch.com/green for more on green issues here.
By Nic Paton